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Archive: October 2017 (North Eastern OR Group / ANNE)

Monday, 30 Oct 2017
Hope Meadows


The Core in Newcastle, part of Newcastle University, provided the setting for the autumn conference of the newly formed Analyst Network North East (ANNE). Open to all analysts in the North East region, the network aims to connect people and exchange ideas on analysis, reaching across the public, private and academic sectors. The event brought together over 60 analysts from across the North East and the four talks showcased the diversity of analysis happening in the region.

Steve Caughey from the Cloud Innovation Centre kicked off the conference with an overview of the newly-funded National Innovation Centre for Data. Whilst the building won’t be complete until 2020, Steve previewed what the final design will look like and how the centre is engaging with businesses to ascertain their needs, provide insight and run joint projects.

The first talk was by Andrew Jenkins from Kinewell Energy. Andrew discussed his work in the offshore wind energy sector where he has developed software that optimises the inter-array cable layouts. The pictures Andrew showed in the talk really brought to life the problem and he demonstrated the power of computer models to produce optimal solutions which are way more efficient than using pen and paper.

Next up, Phil Wherry from the National Audit office (NAO) presented on quality assuring models and the methods used to review government models. Phil received a lot of questions in the Q&A at the end of his talk such as ‘How are we going to account for the impact of Brexit?’, ‘Are there things which are too complex to model?’ and ‘What are the NAO’s expectation of clients?’

We then had a coffee break which was a great opportunity for networking. There were analysts from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Valuations Office Agency, NHS, Newcastle University, Department for Education and others.

The second half of presentations began with Neil Sorensen from DWP presenting analysis of Private Rented Sector (PRS) housing data and the affordability issues. We learned that Local Housing Authority (LHA) rates, which are used for Housing Benefit/Universal Credit, were pegged to the 30th percentile of rents in an area’s private sector. But as a result of a policy to freeze LHA rates, there has been a significant divergence with many rates now well below the 30th percentile.

The final talk was given by Victoria Sutherland from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who gave a really useful overview of the role of the LEP and the role economic analysis plays in the LEP. She also discussed the economic performance of the region including some of the challenges the region faces to growth and development. These included the relatively low employment density of 650 jobs per 1000 working age population (compared to 740 nationally), lower economic activity and employment rates and lower productivity. The North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) has sets six targets around improving the region’s performance on these issues.

The event was a success; we had an engaged audience and speakers who highlighted the wide range of analysis being conducted in the region. Our next event is in early 2018. We are hoping for the network to also provide opportunities in mentoring and outreach to local schools and universities. If you would like to engage with us you can find us on twitter @AnalystNetNE or join the group on LinkedIn ‘Analyst Network North East’.